Saying that Rhode Island needs to undertake a more comprehensive and energetic effort to promote the state as a good place to do business, Sen. Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) is calling for the appointment of “economic ambassadors” for the Ocean State.
As envisioned by Senator Crowley in legislation she has introduced, 2015-S 0040, economic ambassadors would be appointed by the governor, with the consent of the Senate, to promote business activities and economic investments in Rhode Island from different regions throughout the nation and world.
“I believe that economic ambassadors – selected by the governor as individuals who have earned recognition and distinction as business leaders in Rhode Island – could be very valuable adjuncts to the kind of promotion that is already being conducted by departments of state government and the various chambers of commerce,” said Senator Crowley. “Many of these business leaders already have contacts and relationships across the country and through them we could do a much more extensive job of attracting business to our state.”
Under the Crowley legislation, the title of economic ambassador would be honorific only, and these individuals would receive no compensation for their efforts on behalf of the state. They would, however, receive a certificate from the Secretary of State, bearing the seal of the state and designating them as a “Rhode Island economic ambassador.”
Individuals appointed to these positions would serve for a term of no more than five years, but would have no official state status.
“I envision these positions as something like a goodwill ambassador for our state, but at the same time I think the efforts they undertake could be much more beneficial to Rhode Island’s economic recovery,” said Senator Crowley. “These individuals – during their travels around the United States or to other countries – could help raise awareness about the potential for business development and growth in our state.”
The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce. Co-sponsors include Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland), Sen. Marc A. Cote (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield), Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence) and Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket).
Senator Crowley said she is unaware of any other state that employs economic ambassadors, but has discovered that some communities have similar kinds of programs. In Phoenix, AZ, for instance, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council has developed an ambassador program to promote regional assets and shape discussion on economic recovery in that state.